A former Kaitaia man made his family proud after surviving a notoriously tough long-distance event in North America this week.
Mike De Ridder completed the Tahoe 200 Endurance Run Ultra inside the cut off time after running the 205 mile route around Lake Tahoe and surrounding areas in just under 97 hours.
Among 250 starters who began the race at 9am last Friday [USA time], the 47-year-old De Ridder finished at 9.30am on Tuesday, safely home before cut off (100 hours) at 1pm. He slept for only five hours during the four-day event by sneaking in power naps after re-nourishing at one of the eight stations set up along the course.
The firefighter was catching up on some much needed rest when The Northland Age called around five hours after he'd completed his Tahoe 200 mission yesterday morning but his American wife Jennifer understood nearly a quarter of the field, approximately 60 runners, ended up falling by the wayside.
The Tahoe 200 was the second endurance run De Ridder has undertaken. He also took on and finished a 240-mile [386km] endurance event in Utah last year, although the Tahoe 200 was held at a higher altitude.
"He loves a challenge," she said of her husband's enthusiasm to push himself to the brink. "He really enjoys trail running, running in the woods, being in nature ... pushing himself while having amazing views."
De Ridder is the son of Lee Collard and Neville De Ridder. Lee travelled to the States to support Mike and said it was a very emotional moment watching her son cross the finish line, a moment live streamed to wider family on social media.
"You get more impressed as you find out more detail about what you have to go through in this event," she said.
De Ridder grew up in Kaitaia and attended Awanui Primary and Kaitaia Intermediate, boarding at Kings College. He has lived in the US for 23 years and is currently a full-time firefighter at the King Fire Station in North Carolina.
¦The Tahoe 200 is a scenic trail loop course that goes around Lake Tahoe in California and Nevada. The race mostly uses the Tahoe Rim Trail, but deviates around Mt. Rose Wilderness, Granite Chief Wilderness and to the West of Desolation Wilderness, taking runners on a 205-mile [330km] tour of the lake and surrounding area.
Runners experience the highs and lows of the terrain on this epic journey.
The course traverses some of the most stunning trails in the United States, with plentiful alpine lakes, high altitude forests, rock strewn landscapes, and other worldly sights.
The area is home to a diverse wildlife population including black bears, mountain lions, martens, bobcats, mule deer, marmot, porcupines, raccoons, and many types of squirrels, birds, fish and other animals.